NR Ex-Publisher Rusher Joins in Frumpurge
With American troops nearing the precincts of
Baghdad, the end of the war in Iraq may be coming fairly
soon. In this country the war within the American right
shows no signs of a ceasefire whatsoever.
Two weeks after National Review published
neo-conservative Likudnik David Frum`s
"paleo-conservatives" (including me) as
"unpatriotic conservatives," an aging senior
statesman of the Old Right weighed in—on Mr. Frum`s
The senior statesman is William Rusher,
once the publisher of National Review in the
days when it was a real conservative journal, and
now a syndicated columnist in semi-retirement in San
Francisco. Quite frankly, his
column is generally unnoticeable, but
this one got attention.
Mr. Rusher quotes Mr. Frum`s article extensively and
allows him to repeat his charges that paleo-conservatives
"hate their country" and are on the side of the enemy in
the Iraq war—false charges Mr. Frum entirely fails to
Mr. Frum, you see, is incapable of distinguishing
between those who opposed the war because it was not in
America`s interest and those who might oppose it because
they`re actually on the
Nowhere does Mr. Rusher bother to inform his readers
that there have been at least half-a-dozen and probably
more full-scale responses to Mr. Frum from the very
people he smears—from Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan,
Thomas Fleming of Chronicles, historian
me, and several
others — as well as any number of replies from our
supporters. All these are easily available in newspapers
or on websites, but sadly, Mr. Rusher isn`t honest
enough to cite a single one.
He also swallows Mr. Frum`s flawed account of the
history of paleo-conservatism, repeating his error that
the paleos emerged only in 1986. In fact, paleos had
been active conservatives for years before that.
He`s right that a distinctive paleo-conservative
identity emerged only in response to "neo-conservatism,"
but he gets the reasons for it wrong.
Mr. Rusher would have us think that the paleos
objected because "the `neos` had hijacked the
conservative movement to serve an agenda of their own,
notably support for Israel." In fact, neo-con
support for Israel has never been a major issue among
The paleos held two objections to the neo-cons.
First, they were not reliable conservatives and their
"conservatism" applied only to a few issues like the
cold war, affirmative action and opposition to the New
Left. As Mr. Frum and other neo-cons have long made
clear, while the paleos opposed the
civil rights movement,
mass immigration, and big government in general, the
In 1997, for example, long after the two groups had
split, neo-conservative leader Bill Kristol openly
endorsed the liberal legacy of the swollen federal
leviathan. In an
interview [Pay archive] with liberal columnist E.J.
Dionne of the Washington Post, Mr. Kristol
Roosevelt and John Kennedy and, for that matter,
Lyndon Johnson are big facts in American history. Are we
willing to say that the country is worse off because of
LBJ? I`m not willing to say that."
No, the neos aren`t. But the paleos are. And at one
time National Review and Bill Rusher were too.
But if paleos raised eyebrows at the arrival of the
neo-cons into their ranks for ideological reasons, they
worried even more over who started calling the shots.
The neo-cons began demanding that conservatives
abandon or dilute many of the issues and principles that
defined their identity—opposition to
immigration, civil rights, and big government among
them. Moreover, they soon acquired the financial clout
at various funding organizations to enforce their
demands. Conservative institutions that refused to tow
the neo-con line were simply defunded, as happened to
the Rockford Institute, which publishes
Chronicles, the main paleo magazine. Others were
threatened; still more were too frightened to resist.
In short, most of those now identified as "paleo-conservatives"
at first welcomed the "neo-conservatives," until it
became clear they weren`t conservatives at all and
weren`t willing to let us be conservatives either. All
this is recounted in several books about the history of
the conservative movement—by
Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming and most recently by
Joseph Scotchie, whose
"Revolt from the Heartland" tells the story in
full. Mr. Frum, of course, cites none of the above. Nor
does Mr. Rusher.
Today, the neo-cons have won—at least they`ve taken
over what`s left of the "conservative movement" and
driven this country into what may be the first of many
wars we didn`t have to fight. As for the movement, they
can have my share of it, along with that of most other
paleos—we now have our own movement—but reading Mr.
Rusher`s simple-minded, inaccurate and one-sided column
helps make clear how the neo-cons could bamboozle so
many older conservatives so easily.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.]